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"I'm troubled by what I've seen," Bush told reporters in his first public comments on the flood of City Hall weddings that have made San Francisco the focus of the gay marriage movement.

"I have consistently stated that I'll support (a) law to protect marriage between a man and a woman. And, obviously, these events are influencing my decision," Bush said during a picture-taking session with the president of Tunisia and after meeting with Catholic leaders at the White House.

As a self-proclaimed "uniter, not a divider," it looks like the President is playing this issue just about perfectly for the election.

There's no doubt that a major election-year cultural war over gay marriage is coming, thanks to the issue being forced in Massachusetts and San Francisco. According to the Reuters article, 51 percent of Americans favor an outright constitutional amendment recognizing marriage as only involving a man and woman. The Democratic party is divided (so what else is new?) between party activists in favor of gay rights and "heartland" voters who are much more culturally conservative (remember that President Clinton signed DOMA). Kerry has bobbed and weaved a little on the issue, but has made statements against gay marriage in the past.

Meanwhile, a few Log Cabin candidates in California notwithstanding, the Republican "base" and party leadership are remarkably unified on the issue, differing only slightly on the precise tool that should take out gay marriage.

Bush, in a feat of triangulation worthy of his predecessor, has been cagey about whether he would support a Federal Marriage Amendment. As the issue becomes hotter and hotter, and as lawsuits are filed by gay couples married in one jurisdiction or another, his hand will be "forced" by outside events, leading him to a decision which his culturally conservative supporters never doubted he'd make. Not a Pat Buchanan-like, scary culture warrior, but a reluctant defender of the family taking the only possible step.

It'll be interesting to see how, and whether, the Democrats will be able to counter.


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I think (or hope, rather) that any attempt at a Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage would be soundly shot down, because it harkens back to the early part of the 20th century and the whole interracial marriage thing.

We'll see. For social conservatives, it's not an equality or fairness issue at all and they don't buy the comparison to race relations. They chalk homosexuality up to immoral choices, so they dismiss the genetic argument out of hand and are disinclined to "live and let live."

And I found this quote in a November Washington Post article:

"A survey conducted last July by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that 64 percent of black respondents opposed gay marriage. A Pew Research Center poll released last week shows that opposition has grown since July among Democratic-leaning voters, including blacks."

Those of us supportive of gay rights have a lot of work to do to change some hearts and minds in the general public. At the moment, the only thing that seems to stand in the way of a Federal Marriage Amendment is the need for three-fourths of the states to approve it -- a high bar.

"A survey conducted last July by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that 64 percent of black respondents opposed gay marriage..."

It's sad that the so-recently discriminated against don't want to support the currently discriminated against.

Gay marriage may be against a particular religion's beliefs, but last time I looked we're not a theocracy (though Dubya would like to make it one). Muslims are offended by eating pork. Maybe we should make a Constitutional amendment against eating pork...

"It's sad that the so-recently discriminated against don't want to support the currently discriminated against."

Ah, but those African-Americans who are against gay marriage don't see it in terms of discrimination or rights. They were wrongfully discriminated against for the pigmentation of their skins, but in their view homosexuals aren't a legitimate minority: they're just wilful sinners who are condemned by the Bible, end of story. (They would see it as analogous to supporting the 'right' of a murderer to murder.) Any comparison between the African-American community and the gay community is vehemently rejected.

There's an element of class antagonism here too. Most African-American gays and lesbians are closeted, so the only openly gay people most blacks observe are middle or upper class whites. (Working-class gays and lesbians are generally deep in the closet and thus invisible.) So to many blacks homosexuality is seen as an issue for rich white folks. People like Bayard Rustin, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin and other African-American gays are, sadly, just not part of the argument.

(A similar attitude in Africa also played a role in the recent contretemps about the investment of Robinson as an Episcopalian Bishop. The most vociferous opponents were members of the Anglican Communion in Africa. A Bishop in Nigeria was particularly hostile. This is because Africans have, by and large, convinced themselves that homosexuality is entirely a Western white colonial imposition. Any anthroplogist could tell them otherwises, but they're just not willing to listen.)

Historically, minority groups have seldom shown solidarity. In the nineteenth century the Irish of the North rioted against blacks who were competing with them for low-wage jobs. Susan B. Anthony imposed segregation in the suffrage movement to gain the support of Southern white women. There have been repeated nasty flare-ups of anti-semitism in the black community. And at Auschwitz, some Jehovah Witnesses said that of course their persecution was wrong since they were God's chosen, but they openly proclaimed that they were pleased the Jews were getting exterminated, since they had killed Christ and deserved it.

Species pseudo-differentiation: mine against yours, forever.